The pros and cons of going back to work after maternity leave
You are a new parent or about to become one. The thoughts of childcare are creeping into your head. Parental leave is quickly coming to an end. What to do? Should you stay home and take care of your child, or should you go back to work. We present you with the ultimate argument.
Many soon-to-be or new parents reside in a sweet oblivion and care very little about planning child care options. But then comes a time and it all comes crashing down on them. Very quickly they learn the many options for child care (you can too, by reading this article), but most importantly - the cost of childcare. And at that point the very serious question of whether one parent should give up their career and become a stay-at-home parent arises. There are many argument for and against, and we won't make any recommendations, as everyone's situation is very unique, but we will provide some suggestions of things to consider when making this big decision.
In a very altruWisdom way, we would like for you to look a the questions from 4 facets: financial, legal & documents, housing & care, and wellness.
Financial. Before making the decision to quit or to return to work, we recommend performing the expense/gain exercise. Step 1. Write out the total compensation of the parent earning the least income in the family. This should include: take-home pay, health insurance, retirement, perks, bonuses, future opportunity (hard to monetize, but try to evaluate the potential for raises or advancements in the career and the type of monetary rewards it could bring). Step 2. Put together the costs you will incur, should you return to work. This should include: childcare, additional childcare logistics (early drop-offs, late pickups, transport to and from the childcare facility, etc). Step 3. Compile the number of savings you will gain if you decide to stay home. This should include: Commuting (bus fare/gas/time), wardrobe, taxes (the less you make the less taxes you pay), food (work lunches and eating takeout after a busy day at work). Step 4. Subtract Steps 2 and 3 from Step 1. Did you get a positive or negative number? Take the number into consideration when making the final decision.
Legal & documents. If one of the parents does decide to stay home after the parental leave is over, there are some important steps that need to be taken, before notifying your employer of your decision. Step 1. Check your current loans and mortgages. If any of them are up for renewal, make sure you complete the renewal before quitting your job. Mortgage rates are calculated based on the current income, so if it suddenly changes due to you quitting, so will your rates. Step 2. If you are planning on applying for health insurance, make sure you do so before quitting your job as well. Your employment status and income affect your premiums and eligibility for insurance coverage.
Housing & Care. When considering whether you are going to be staying home after the parental leave is over, you have to keep in mind that you will gain some new responsibilities with this new job. Taking care of the household, preparing daily meals, doing laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, running errands. If before, when both parents were working and a baby was not in the picture, the budget had room for takeout, laundry service and a weekly cleaner, things are certainly about to change. Should you decide to stay home, you will be looking at loosing one source of income, and having a baby adds a whole new level of expenses. So, unless you hire help to allow you to continue bringing in money, it is simply not viable. With all that said, a serious consideration is whether you will be capable and willing to perform all those extra duties. Will you grow resentful of your partner if they do not contribute as much as they used to or if they expect you to take over those duties? Before you make the decision to return to work and before you take action, make sure that childcare plans are available, solid and reliable. Take some time to research, verify and gain confidence in the childcare option, so you can have the peace of mind when you return to work.
Wellness. One of the biggest aspects which may influence your decision is your wellness. Uprooting your entire routine and changing it for something different may be exactly what you have always strived for, but it may also be something that you fear the most. There are great many things you will be sacrificing by staying home to take care of your child, and so many things you will be gaining, so you need to start by putting together the list of emotional pros and cons. Few things to keep in mind: by staying at home you will likely be significantly cutting back your social interactions; you may loose the sense of fulfillment you got from pursuing your career and the wins at work; you will need to perform many duties around the home, which you may not be used to, or enjoy; you may loose or radically change your personal style; you will loose traction in your career, which may hurt your chance at a successful career down the line. On the upside: you will gain many new skills which you didn't have before; you may make new friends with similar interests; you will likely feel a sense of fulfilment from taking care of your child and household and the wins of your child and your own will bring you great joy; you may learn to enjoy cooking and cleaning and a clean and organized house will make you happy; you may adopt new hobbies. The potential change in your relationship with your partner is important to consider as well. Will there be resentment or jealousy if you stay home, or, return to work? Will your partner respect you less, or more? Will you treat your partner any differently in the new role of a stay-at-home parent? How will your friends and family react to your decision? Do you experience pressure from your inner circle to make a certain decision? Now, think about your relationship with your child. Will the daily separation be too hard to bare? Will you feel like you are not contributing enough to your child's daily development and missing certain milestones? On the opposite side of the spectrum - will you feel constant frustration and experience fear of missing out if you stay home to take care of the child? Will you take your frustrations on your child and feel resentment towards them? And lastly, you need to think about your relationship with yourself. Will you loose some respect for yourself if you make a certain decision? Will your emotions make you vulnerable, affect your health and quality of life?
There are great many things to consider when making a decision to become a stay-at-home parent or to return to work after the parental leave. It is important to remember that whatever decision you make, it can be reversed, should things not work out the way you'd expected them to. To reach the decision that will be the most appropriate in your current situation, make sure you consider all facets and always communicate openly with your partner, since your decision will affect the family as a whole.
To learn more about the steps you will need to make when preparing to have a child, check out our Prerequisites of Parenting Life Event.
Good luck with your decision! If you are having difficulties with your paperwork, budgeting, financial planning, reach out to one of our Wise Owls at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.